According to the US consumer product safety commission, every year electric extension cords cause about 4,000 trips to hospital emergency rooms. The misuse of electric extension cords and power strips also cause more than three thousand house fires every year, killing about 50 people and injuring over 250. Here are some rules on how to use power strips correctly to keep you and your loved ones safe.
Regardless of the season, maintaining proper electricity usage practices is essential to ensuring that your home remains safe at all times. However, this commitment to safety can be challenging when your household’s electrical needs outstrip your living space’s built-in power outlet supply.
Power strips were designed to circumvent this problem, but that doesn’t mean that every instance of their use is entirely safe. In fact, there are a handful of common household items that you should never plug into a power strip. Doing so risks a chance of the power strip overheating or sparking, leading to a fire. While you review your home’s electrical usage practices, ensure that the following four items are never plugged into a power strip:
Slow Cookers and Crock Pots
Due to the nature of their intermittent use to prepare meals, you might feel compelled to plug your Crock Pot or slow cooker into a power strip to preserve your regular kitchen set up.
But such a practice should be avoided entirely because power strips can overheat due to overuse and spark a fire during the slow cooker’s extended operational period.
Depending on the countertop arrangement in your home or apartment’s kitchen, you may feel it is necessary to plug your microwave into a power strip. Don’t do this! Power strips can’t provide enough power for a standard microwave.
Using a power strip can make them malfunction without notice, putting your microwave, and more alarmingly, your kitchen, at risk.
Coffee makers might be your work day best friend, but they are certainly not buddies with a household power strip.
Most coffee makers require a high volume of energy to successfully convert grounds and water into piping-hot coffee, so you should always plug your coffee maker into an in-line outlet to ensure it can complete its job successfully.
Another Power Strip
Despite their appearance, power strips are not designed to interface with one another in order to transfer your in-line electricity over an unlimited distance.
This practice of “daisy-chaining” can quickly overload your home’s electrical grid, which is why it is outlawed under most residential fire codes. As an alternative, consider purchasing a purpose-built extension cord to meet your long-distance power distribution needs.
The Bottom Line
All in all, one of the best ways to prevent accidental electrical damage to your home is to avoid plugging any of the appliances described above into a power strip. These devices have their place, but you have to be safe and smart in how you use them.